Important to 'maintain, promote peace': Asean
Asean urges 'non-militarisation' of South China Sea
South-east Asia's leaders are calling for the "non-militarisation" of the South China Sea to ease tensions arising from territorial disputes.
A statement released yesterday by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as Asean chair "emphasised the importance of non-militarisation".
The leaders "reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, maritime safety and security, rules-based order and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea", the statement added.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about US$5 trillion (S$6.8 trillion) worth of goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims there.
China has asserted its claims with a massive island-building programme in the Spratly Islands in the southern half of the South China Sea.
It already has Chengdu J-10 multi-role fighters, YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles stationed on Woody Island in the Paracel chain of islands near Vietnam.
Mr Duterte said last week the weapons build-up, not just by China but also the other claimants, raises the risk of a violent confrontation in the South China Sea.